Staff & Sling
Ministry

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

The Lord Helps Those Who ...

We went down to Louisiana last week to get my mother. Before anyone imagines an armed rescue excursion into a toxic wasteland, let me make clear that my mother was in Lake Charles which was on the west side (the good side) of the hurricane. We didn’t have to fend off marauding bands of looters, nor wade through alligator infested flood waters, but we were told that there was gasoline rationing. We were told that people were getting a bit desperate for gasoline and that if we didn’t bring it with us we wouldn’t likely be able to get any. So we loaded up a fifty-five gallon drum and a Glock 9 mm and headed south.

When we finally made it back to Oklahoma, we still had fifty-five gallons of 87 octane unleaded in our barrel (and full magazines for the Glock, just in case you’re concerned). Not only were gas stations opened for business, they were fully stocked and quite happy to sell all of the gasoline one wished to buy. Not only were there no lines, there was in fact only one customer pumping gas at any of the neighborhood stations we passed in Lake Charles proper. And just to add a final insult to the whole ordeal, gasoline in Lake Charles was $0.30 per gallon cheaper than anywhere else we had passed along the way.

So we’re safe at home now, but I have been struggling with how to properly think of, and respond to, this disaster.

I know that it has become popular to blame the director of FEMA for the tragedies that were the wake of Katrina. Frankly, I find it reminiscent of the British enquiries following the sinking of the Titanic. They laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the captain of a ship (the California) that had been nearby. His ship was stationary, a prudent precaution in the presence of such an ice field (witness the Titanic), and the board of enquiry decided that he could have saved all of the dead if he had gone in.

However, they never explained why the blame was his alone, not to be shared by any of the scores of other ships’ captains also stationary in the vicinity. And even more importantly, they never once even mentioned that the Board of Trade had allowed the Titanic to set sail with only 20 life boats, enough for less than half of the passengers.

So while it has become popular to blame the director of FEMA, the facts, as I have come to understand them, simply do not support such a conclusion. If one simply must find someone on whom to heap the blame, then there are, in my mind, two salient events.

The first event occurred when the Red Cross tried to bring supplies to the Super Dome. Days in advance of Katrina’s landfall the Red Cross had positioned relief supplies in the areas just outside Louisiana and Mississippi in order to be ready to move in as soon as the winds died down. In the hours immediately following the storm, before any significant flooding was occurring, the Red Cross and other relief agencies were denied entry by the Louisiana National Guard, under the direct command of the Governor’s office, on the grounds that they didn’t want refugees getting comfortable and settling into the Super Dome.

The second event, and in my opinion by far the most egregious, came by way of the Mayor of New Orleans. In an act that far exceeds the standards of criminal negligence, the mayor of New Orleans left hundreds of city and local school buses, buses that could have moved refugees to safety, to lay waste instead. Make no mistake, there are bodies, human remains, decaying in the streets of New Orleans today because of this single decision. I can only hope that it is not true, but it has been reported that he, Ray Nagin, wanted the federal government to confiscate Trailways and Greyhound buses, privately owned buses, and send them in instead.

Now let's you and I get past laying blame.

Scripture tells us that a day will come when "And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold" (Matthew 24: 12; parenthetic added). Even though this will happen, I don’t want to be the one it happens to. On the other hand, I read "... if any would not work, neither shall he eat" (II Thessalonians 3: 10b). So when I look at the pictures of the scores of able-bodied who chose not to get out (even if on foot) when they could, but to sit and wait for someone else to take care of them, I can not help but wonder if they deserve help.

Like blaming the director of FEMA, or the captain of the California, this might be a convenient choice to make, but it grossly ignores the most salient facts. If there is a single passage in scripture that is most germane to this topic it is this.

Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25: 37 - 40).

And this is why we should help those impacted by this disaster; not because they deserve our help but because they need our help. Indeed, many of the refugees do not deserve help, ours or any. And understand too that we are not called to naivete, but to mercy. In the end we should not need to convince ourselves that those we help are deserving. You see, neither were we deserving when Christ died for us (Romans 5: 8). So while it is tempting to look coldly upon so many of those who need help, it is nonetheless wrong, not because they deserve help but because we didn’t.


Matthew 24: 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

II Thessalonians 3: 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

Matthew 25: 37 - 40 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.

Romans 5: 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.